Author: hopelessromantic549 PM
"I was ready," she whispers tearfully into his hair, unable to comprehend that in his delusional state, he probably can't even hear her. "I was ready to love you, and now you're dying. It's not fair." D/E post 2x21.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Damon S. & Elena G. - Words: 5,250 - Reviews: 61 - Favs: 94 - Follows: 9 - Published: 05-12-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6985205
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Because I couldn't not write this.
Title from depressing, amazing, beautiful song by Bon Iver.
If I wasted your beauty I'll ignite it somehow
'Cause a dream can be cruel
When it haunts you like this
With your eyes like a deer and the words from your lips
What I'm trying to say is
I was afraid that you'd believe
So I slept with my failures
And I started to grieve
- "Some Streets Lead Nowhere" by Matthew Ryan
She never thought she could mourn someone before their skin was even cold to the touch. She never thought she could miss someone who has broken her more times than she can count. She never thought parts of her could tremble and quake and shiver in dreadful anticipation of what will surely come.
But already, she cannot fathom his death.
Already, she is dying, too.
She wakes up in his arms, his hand on her cheek, his eyes so blue that something in her gives in, gives in because she can barely breathe. She doesn't know why she's surprised that he's here with her, worry etched in every indescribably beautiful crevice of his face.
"Elena." It's the first word she hears in her new life.
"Damon," she breathes, and she doesn't mean to, really. But her gaze scatters about the room, her vision hazy, disorientation soaking her senses. She lets her eyes linger on her brother and her history teacher, their faces brimming with unspeakable horror, Jenna's name hovering on their tongues. She starts to crumble, and connecting with him, the idea of it, is the only rational thought careening throughout her clattered head. He's here.
A sigh of relief leaves those full lips of his when she coughs violently, and tears rise in her throat, leaping and fighting and testing her. She just stares at him, blinking, her name on his lips saving her somehow.
"How do you feel?" He asks gently, unashamedly, and something about this situation is so very funny, funny because the only reason he even has to ask her this is because he made her drink his blood in that other lifetime. She doesn't understand why he insists on making so many mistakes if he's only going to rectify them the moment after.
But he sweeps a hand under her chin, feeling her pulse, and she leans into him. He is so tender, so caring, that she wants to rewind this moment, wants to play it again until the rough notes of his voice envelop her like this gut-wrenching grief.
She just wants to burrow into him, burrow until she can't feel anything else.
And yet, all she feels right now is distinctly human. The room is still blurry, his face undefined, his eyes blazing like she remembers. She is still human, and a blinding, crazy happiness floods her.
"I'm fine," she manages to get out, her eyes fluttering nervously. He nods minutely, and she thinks he looks tired, tired and sad and scared.
But he holds her gaze.
She just barely manages to resist the urge to pull him into her.
She lays a single red rose on Jenna's grave, fighting back the tears because they're useless now, after all. The sky is entirely too blue, the sun entirely too hot, but she hardly notices. She is still alive, but she's not so sure she's surviving.
She kneels by her parents' grave, her eyes so very, very aching. She wants to run away, run away from this cemetery and this devastation and the agony that is slowly ripping its way through her. She has known so much sorrow, so much grief and fear and horror. She cannot smile anymore; it is misplaced. She just wants to run away.
But she looks up, looks off into the distance, and there he is, holding her stagnant, his eyes full of color and compassion, his mouth pulling downward. He doesn't say anything, and she just looks at him, looks at everything she thought she could deny. She just looks at him, because he holds his ground. He gives her strength.
She lets the tears fall.
It isn't until much, much later, when the graves are cold and the tears have dried and she can smile without feeling like the world might stop spinning, that everything comes crashing down again. She doesn't know how Stefan managed to keep this from her for so long, but it doesn't matter.
Nothing matters but this.
Yes, she miraculously survived the sacrifice. Yes, she lost some people and kept some others. And yet…when she finally pays attention to the lives carrying on around her, she realizes that Damon has not been moving as quickly as he should be.
She sees the werewolf bite as he breezes past her one day and immediately understands what it means. She cannot even think, really. She just sinks to her knees and lets loose a torrent of tears.
(She may never forgive him for almost turning her into a vampire, but she will never survive if he dies.)
"Why didn't you tell me?"
The words hang in the air, clear and succinct and bleeding. She thinks stupidly that his answer doesn't matter so much - at least, not as much as the moisture gleaming in his eyes, threatening to fall.
He reaches up to touch her cheek, his fingers roaming over her skin like cold silk on hot satin. He smiles, bittersweet, pure. "I'm sorry," he whispers, and she wonders what he's really apologizing for. "I didn't want to worry you."
She wants to scream at him, wants to be angry. She wants to counter that clearly he has no respect for her, no confidence that she can handle this. She even wants to slap him, hard and fast and blistering, because it's an excuse to vent, an excuse to communicate what her words cannot.
(She can't lose him.)
He looks at her, and she can tell he's breathing her in.
In the aftermath, no one is quite sure what to do. They all still remember Rose's slow demise, of course – the hysteria and the dementia and the pain – but then, Damon staked her before her condition could progress much. It is well known that werewolf bites kill vampires, but there is no proof.
And Elena cannot give up, even if Damon himself has come to the conclusion that he will die soon. She refuses to forsake him, because he has never forsaken her.
And so she keeps fighting for him. The days pass and the sun shines and everything should be alright.
Instead, nothing is.
She thinks sometimes that she shouldn't already feel so empty.
Before Damon begins to fall into delusions, before his instincts reign supreme, when he is still lucid, he finds her. He finds her, because he is helpless to do anything else.
She is sitting at her window, writing. Bitterness and pain spirals out of her, angry and fierce, evident in the black ink that spatters all over the pages. She is so frustrated. More than anything, she is frustrated.
She has been trying to find a cure in vain, poring through grimoires with the witch who once swore she would stop at nothing to kill Damon. She has been losing sleep and losing years over this, fighting for him because he won't fight for himself.
And still, there is no hope.
She doesn't know why she can't let go. It should bother her that the thought of him dying makes her physically sick to her stomach, but it just confuses her. She doesn't know when she stopped pretending that she doesn't need him, but the facade has dropped. She cannot control herself anymore, but more than that, she doesn't want to.
He appears at her door, and it's like she can feel him, feel the way his presence floods the room, feel the extra weight in his step and the affection he is no longer trying to hold back. She is so aware of him, and that doesn't scare her anymore. She is so close to losing him, and that is all she has room in her heart to be afraid of.
It is such a change, but somehow, she embraces it. Her heart embraces him. (She wants to deny the way she feels, but she thinks maybe she's done playing games.)
"Damon," she whispers, staring out into the night instead of at him. She cannot hold his gaze. Not now. Not when he is falling, falling so quickly that she cannot follow, falling into a black hole that is capturing him.
Falling away from her.
"Elena," he whispers, and she wonders if he means to say her name like that, like it's the sweetest taste on his tongue, like he cannot move for fear of never being able to say it again. Like he worries he has wasted so much time.
She stands up, ambling over to him like they have all the time in the world; it is a defiant, bold gesture, one she knows he will recognize. It's a defense mechanism, really. She cannot treat him like he is dying soon. She is physically unable to. She has imagined a scenario like this before, but she still cannot account for the deep hole he is carving in her heart as he moves towards her.
"Elena," he says again, and she wants to scream.
This already hurts more than she can bear.
And somehow, she has almost entirely forgotten about his horrible, horrible choice. She thinks that can wait until she is sure he will survive this. She has not forgiven him, of course, but his life means so much more than that, because he will have forever to make it up to her if he lives. She is still here, still human.
She can still breathe him in. (And somehow, that matters more than anything else in the world.)
"Yes?" She asks at last, her expression carefully controlled. She cannot trust her body around him. She cannot trust herself not to leap into his arms and hold onto for dear life. She cannot trust herself not to love him.
She has simply given up trying.
He gave up long ago, she realizes; now, he tries for something else instead. He is still fighting, fighting because he is sure he is going to die. He doesn't want to leave this world knowing she hates him, but what he'll never understand is that she's never hated him. She just needs him, pure and simple. It's a complicated and painful need, and it makes her do things she regrets.
And yet, he could never be something she regretted, even if she had turned into a vampire.
He takes a step towards her, watching her warily, observing every shift of her weight from foot to foot. She wishes he knew that she can't run away.
She wants to, of course. She wants to be brave and good and accept that she can never truly love him the way he needs to be loved. But grief has crept into her bloodstream, and he is all that matters.
All she can feel is dread.
"I know I don't deserve your forgiveness," he begins, reaching out to her with one hand, the good hand, the hand that has held hers and touched her cheek and loved her with everything he can give her.
She nods slowly. This, of course, is true. He doesn't deserve her forgiveness. She is a merciful person, but she cannot absolve him of this. She cannot do it, not even for him, not even if he is dying. It is too much to forgive.
He takes another step, hovering in this moment, like he is aware she wants to step closer, like he realizes that if only knew how, she would save him.
(If I could.)
"But I need it," he says quietly, and his mouth curves upward unmistakably, and it's too many memories, too many things she can't suppress. It is so like him to barge in here and demand her forgiveness.
She wants to give it to him anyways.
"I understand why you did it," she says slowly, taking a step in his direction even though it burns and scorches, the distance pushing her every inch she leans towards him. Even now, her heart is battling her head, defending her innate knowledge that she cannot let him go, not like this.
God, never like this.
He clenches his jaw. She wonders if he believes her.
"But that doesn't mean I can accept it," she continues thoughtfully, shaking her head and reaching for him because she's helpless right now, helpless not to touch him. "Damon, I just…" She trails off, and suddenly there are tears in her voice, belying her calm façade no matter how valiantly she urges them anyway. "I just don't know."
He nods, the movement clearly hurting him. "I know," he murmurs, and there's such pain in the way he says those words that she feels like she might jump out the window. She has never known such pain, not even in his expressive eyes. She has never known what it means to need someone like this, so much that even if they break you in half, you can still want them like this, want them because you're half a soul without them.
Want them because you can't burn on your own.
"I'm sorry," he breathes suddenly, his eyes roaming her face like he needs to make sure she accepts that, accepts that he has never wanted forgiveness so much. "I'm so sorry. I couldn't lose you, and I know that's selfish."
She wants to cock her head, wants to touch him, make sure he's still real. She's been so worried that he will fall her away, fall from her, fall and fade and die on her. She does not hear what he's saying so much as feel, with a certainty that leaves her shaking, that she has already forgiven him.
"It was selfish," she affirms, and she means it, and she has to tell him the truth. She doesn't want to be a vampire; she never has. He knew that. He knows her, knows her more intimately than Darcy knew Elizabeth or Rhett knew Scarlett. He knows her. How could he take away that choice? How could he do it?
The answer is in his eyes, and she just wants to reach out and grab it. She just wants to feel it, for once, before the flames of this spark between them fade into the night like the fire she can never forget.
He searches her eyes, that blue resounding and frightening and utterly breathtaking, because she's never been able to look away.
"I did it because I love you," he says at last.
And now, only now, does she want to look away. She wants to shy away from the truth of that, wants to hang her head and push him out the door and forget he ever breathed those words. But she forces herself to hold steady. She looks at him because she has to, looks at him because no matter what she says, he has always been her saving grace.
So she nods. It's the most subtle signal she can give him, the easiest way to explain herself. She's accepting his confession, even if she can't reciprocate. She's accepting that he loves her, and it's a miracle, even if he might not be alive much longer to appreciate it.
He reaches out again, this time letting his fingers collide with her cheek, tucking her hair behind her ear. The barest hint of a smile graces his face, and he closes his eyes, savoring this, savoring the only sanctuary she has ever willingly given him.
"I love you," he repeats, and the words settle in the air, lost and barren and far, far too wonderful, "More than my own life. That was all that seemed to matter."
She bites her lip. She isn't angry with him; she doesn't think she was ever angry with him. She just…she thought he understood her better than that. She thought he loved her better than that.
She still doesn't move away.
And yet, she needs to know why he didn't know better.
"Don't you understand that loving someone means you respect their choices, their right to make a choice?" She whispers, unable to inject any sort of venom into her voice, trembling in the wake of such powerful words. "Didn't you consider that before you forced me to drink your blood?"
If he's surprised by the ferocity of these questions, he doesn't show it; he just grimaces.
"No," he admits, wincing. "No, I didn't."
She deflates. "Why?"
It's heartbreaking, the single word that could ruin this indefinable mess between them.
She thinks he must know what she's asking. He's already told her why he did it. That's not what she's asking. No, she wants to know why he doesn't know how to love her the way she thinks he could love her.
She thinks she might know already, but a part of her needs to hear him say it, just once.
"I'm damaged," he explains, and it's not really an explanation but somehow she understands exactly what he's trying to say.
"Oh, Damon," she whispers, and she doesn't mean to touch his face, doesn't mean to curl herself into him like the horrible person she has always believed she was. "Oh, Damon."
It's the sad cry of someone who's made mistakes and paid for them. It's a cry she can only let loose because she wants to love him, and maybe she even does.
It's a cry she feels in every part of her soul.
His face crumples, his eyes dying, the light fading even as he wars against it, wars against it because he cannot leave this world yet, not without her knowing the truth.
"Katherine ruined me," he tries again, and it's like salvation or something close to it, the way the love of his life closes her eyes and whimpers, like she's feeling his hurt, like she's absorbing some of the pain he has kept hidden away for all this time. "She ruined me. I don't know how to love you the right way because what she and I had…it wasn't real."
She blinks, opens her eyes, her eyelashes heavy and wet. She is so tired, tired of ignoring him and ignoring what she feels. Tired of pretending she won't kill herself if he dies.
"And us?" She finds herself asking.
He smiles, slow, sorrowful, like the morning call of a mockingbird after a heavy rain. It's a smile that means hope and faith and, above all else, love. It's a smile she feels like she feels him sometimes, when he touches her and all else seems to linger in the darkness and all she can see is his eyes, those blue, blue, blue eyes.
"We're real," he whispers, and they are words she could not forget, words she will never forget, words she can't bear to have him take away. "We're real and I still can't love you the right way."
This is true, too, and a part of her wishes he wouldn't be so honest. She needs him to hold her, to promise he can make this all better even if he can't.
She just needs…him.
"I want you to," she admits, looking up at him, afraid of what she's saying because she has no right to encourage him, even if she feels exactly what he feels. "I think I might need you to."
Surprise flits across his face, but he just presses his lips to the top of her head, so delicate that every cell in her body aches for more of him, for anything he's willing to give her.
"I need to, too," he confesses, wrapping his arms around her and hauling her in, holding her like she's wanted him to hold her for so long. "I'm trying."
It's a promise she knows he won't break, and she feels inexplicably full.
"You can't die," she says, and the words are dead and lifeless, as if, already, they are both giving up (but she refuses to give up). "You can't die."
He doesn't say anything. She thinks maybe he'll ask her if she has forgiven him after all, but she finds that he already knows.
So instead of voicing her acceptance of his heartfelt apology, she just cries, hot tears that soak his shirt and leave her raw and biting, like the bite she can never forget he still has. She wants to hit him, wants to yell at him for making her love him like this if he was only going to leave her in the end, but she can't.
Because if he dies, the world will go black.
He fades, slowly but surely. There are confusions, comparisons to Katherine, her smile mingling with Elena's smile, his eyes unseeing as the human girl he gave everything to hugs him and stands in front of him with her heart in her hands and asks him to just be hers.
He fades. There is darkness and there is light, full moons and shining suns, attacking his brother and the vampire he still thinks resembles a Barbie, confessions and apologies and delirium.
He fades. There are tears and there is fear and there is a palpable sense of inevitability. He accepts his fate, and still, he fights it, because a part of him has come too far to relinquish his own journey now.
If only for her, he cannot die just yet.
She stays by his side one long night, desperately afraid that when he closes his eyes, it will be for the last time. She should be afraid of his volatility, but she cannot make herself care.
She feels so many things for him, so many things she has never really been able to put into words. He represents so much more than just himself to her; he represents this grand idea of love, of soulmates and hearts that were made for each other and tragic, bittersweet medieval stories. He is her entire life, her entire soul, and she cannot –
She strokes his cheek and she stays with him, and the night is too dark and she is breaking, breaking into pieces he should put back together.
Pieces he cannot put back together, because he is already falling apart.
"I was ready," she whispers tearfully into his hair, unable to comprehend that in his delusional state, he probably can't even hear her. "I was ready to love you, and now you're dying. It's not fair."
She can't breathe anymore, so she whispers the words she can't say to him in the daylight.
"God, I love you."
He's sleeping one day, and she steals into his room and brushes his hair off his forehead. The sun pours beams of light across his body, and for some reason, she wants to cry.
Her eyes fall on a piece of paper on his bedside table. She reads it because there's no time to wonder who it was meant for.
Alaric: I'm sorry we lost Jenna. You didn't deserve that, and I wish I could have saved her. You were always a good friend to me even when I didn't deserve it – and most of the time, I didn't. Thank you.
She wipes her eyes with the back of her hand. This is too much.
Bonnie: We never really got along – okay, that's an understatement, but go with me here – but I'll never forget that you were willing to risk your own life to save Elena's. Thank you for that.
Caroline: I hate to say it, but I'm proud of you. You are still the same annoying, neurotic, insecure, Caroline, and I couldn't be happier.
Jeremy: I'm sorry I tried to kill you. Okay, fine, I'm sorry I killed you. You're a part of the team now. Be good to your sister. She's going to need you.
She feels hot tears flood her vision, but she just blinks them away. She has always known he feels this much, but to see it in words unhinges her. And yet, she keeps reading, because this, this right here, this – this is why she loves him.
Stefan: You're my brother. Whatever I've done or said, you will always be my brother, and I'll always love you. I'm sorry for everything.
She starts to shake uncontrollably.
Elena: I love you.
When Damon wakes up, he is completely aware of where he is and who he is and who he's with. He immediately feels Elena next to him, sees her tear-streaked face, and envelops her in his arms.
She holds him tighter and wishes she still believed in fairytales.
She doesn't know why she lets Damon go to the Gone with the Wind screening. Maybe it's because it's his favorite movie and this may be his last chance to see it. Maybe it's because she wants to see him happy. Maybe it's because she thinks he deserves to have a normal night with her before…
Or maybe it's because she can't bear to let him out of her sight, when every moment might be his last.
Bonnie has already warned her that she should fear this unstable version of Damon. Stefan has already looked at her with sad eyes and pleaded with her to be careful. Jeremy has already clung to her and begged her not to make him suffer another funeral. They have all already tried to persuade her that Damon is not safe to be around right now, not like this.
But she doesn't care. (She should care, of course, should fall apart at the tears in her brother's eyes. But she feels dead inside.)
So they stand by the fire and they watch the movie, and she does her best to ignore the way he's acting right now, crazy and maniac and, frankly, devilish. She has no idea how to handle this. She just wants to slip into his mind, understand what's happening to him right now. She is losing him, losing him and it terrifies her.
"You don't get to do this," he growls suddenly, his hands gripping the tops of her arms tightly, like he's terrified of losing her. "You don't get to give up."
She stares at him in disbelief. "I'm not giving up," she says slowly, completely confused. She has no idea what's going on. The sacrifice happened and she survived. Klaus and Elijah are gone, at least for now.
Everything is alright.
She shakes as it begins to make sense. He's hallucinating. Oh no.
And he blinks. He keeps seeing Katherine: Katherine burning in that church (or so he thought), Katherine falling on top of him, her dark waves braced on either side of her face, Katherine smiling and Katherine laughing and Katherine dying…he can't differentiate between her and Elena. Not tonight. For heaven's sake, not now.
Katherine gave up on her humanity a long time ago. That was always his battle with her; he fought for her to feel, for once in her miserable existence.
But she never did.
And the girl in front of him is vibrant. She is brave and she is fierce and, more than anything, she is alive.
She is not Katherine.
So he shakes his head, shakes himself free of the torturous visions. "You are not Katherine," he whispers, mostly to himself. He doesn't notice the way Elena scrunches up her pretty little nose. "You are not Katherine."
And then her hands are on his face, soothing and sure. "No, I'm not," she reminds him, her voice firm and bright, full of all the things she cannot say. She wants to hold him, promise that she's okay, make him see that she isn't in danger. But her throat feels tight.
The fire blossoms behind him, and all he can think is that he's drowning in his mistakes. His gaze darts around, looking for a safe place to land. "Have to get her out of here," he murmurs under his breath, frantic and lost. "Have to move her, have to make sure she's okay, have to –"
He keeps going, only one thought resounding through his head: I have to save her.
Elena clutches him, pulling his face back towards her. She's frightened, but not of him – for him.
He gulps. As usual, he doesn't deserve her.
"Look at me," she commands, low and hoarse, tears unmistakably lacing her voice. She doesn't understand what's going on with him right now, but she wants to fix it.
She needs to fix it.
He wants to cry. He never wanted this for her. He knows instinctively that if he had foreseen the pain and destruction he would end up raining down on her, he never would have come back to Mystic Falls. He can't look at her.
But she's insistent. "Damon," she snarls, and there's that fire again (there's fire everywhere). "Look at me."
So he looks at her.
And he feels like he's come alive.
"I want to save you," he breathes. "I need to save you. If I don't save you, I won't survive."
She waits. She's heard all this before.
He realizes that he probably won't survive tonight, considering he's hallucinating and his mind is convinced she is still in grave danger, and that hollow space in his chest is suddenly full, full, tight and painful. He feels like the entire world is crashing down on him, but the only thing that even matters is the face of the incandescent woman before him.
"I love you," he finally confesses in a rush.
She nods, her eyes softening. "I know."
He shakes his head fervently. "No, I love you," he says again, and tears well up in her eyes. "And I –"
He breaks off.
"No matter what happens to me, I love you."
And then, he kisses her, and it's what she's always wanted, what she's always needed. The world explodes, and she breaks for him.
She feels the moment he starts to slip away. She feels it, and she holds on anyways.
(She'll always hold on.)
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